Legislators discuss beginning of session

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

While the Iowa Legislature had only been in session 12 days before the first Washington County legislative briefing Saturday morning, the legislators who serve Washington County discussed what would happen during the coming session.

During the first of three legislative briefings hosted by the Washington Chamber of Commerce, state representatives Jarad Klein and Dave Heaton and Sen. Kevin Kinney addressed a room of about 100 people on the issues. Sen. Rich Taylor was unable to make it to the briefing due to a family emergency. The briefings are normally held at the Washington County Courthouse, but because more people were expected at the briefing it was moved to the Washington Public Library conference rooms. The event opened with a briefing from the Legislators on the happenings in Des Moines.

?There is a lot still developing and ongoing,? Klein said. ?There are a lot of big issues we intend to tackle this year.?

He hopes some water quality bills can go to the governor early in the session, moving into education funding and the opiod issue.

He also said the Legislature would be looking into mental health. He also said the tax reforms would greatly impact all the areas.

Kinney said one of the biggest things he is working on this year is the opiod issue. He said that he, Klein and Heaton had been working to get a bipartisan bill together that will address the issue.

?Opiod overdose deaths are a huge problem,? he said. ?They have gotten worse. That was all I did at the sheriff?s office ? I was assigned to the task force on opiod deaths.?

He also said he hopes to get the veterinary laboratory at Iowa State University funded this year. He said the laboratory is important to agriculture producers.

Heaton discussed several issues coming up. He said he is concentrating on working on the opiod issue. He said that about 200 people died last year due to opiod-related deaths. He commented that adequate treatment facilities for opiod addiction are only located in about eight communities in the state. He also hopes to work more with mental health, saying Gov. Kim Reynolds had recommended the formation of access centers for people going through crisis to have the opportunity to get the subject under control without having to go to an acute level care facility.

Briefings during this session will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 17 and March 17 in the Washington County Courthouse unless otherwise determined.